• Richie O'Reilly

Legends Never Die: Remembering Kobe Bryant

Updated: Oct 5

Kobe, Mamba, GOAT, 8, 24, Overrated, Underrated, MVP, 5-time NBA Champion, All-Star, Dad - No matter how you referred to him, you knew the legend of Kobe Bryant. Over the past few days, this legend was all but confirmed in the most tragic way imaginable.

Despite my best efforts, I’ve struggled immensely to untangle the jumble of emotions in my head, so I have decided to attempt to get them out on paper. Though it is still difficult for me to turn on the TV or scroll through my social media without completely breaking down, I want to do my best to reflect on what made Kobe so special and how his legacy will live on in the hearts of competitors forever.


So, how will we remember the legend that is The Black Mamba?


Maybe we'll remember him for awe-inspiring hero ball style of play.


Maybe we'll remember him for his flair for the dramatic.


We certainly might remember him for his drama on and off the court.


But more than anything, I think we’ll remember him for what earned him all of our respect – The Mamba Mentality.


"Mamba Mentality" wasn’t just some catchy marketing slogan, it was his way of life. Whether it was waking up at 4am to put up extra shots before practice or challenging teammates to one-on-one games to 100, Kobe was always outworking everyone around him (including Michael Jordan, according to Phil Jackson). Whether you liked his hero ball style of play or not, you couldn’t help but respect the man for his immeasurable desire to be the best.


Sure, the same passion that we all loved him for may have also been his undoing at times. Had he been able to maintain even a semblance of a relationship with Shaq while they were playing together, he may have actually achieved his ultimate goal of surpassing Michael Jordan’s six titles and being the best there ever was. But while there is plenty to criticize about how he may have handled his competitive nature at times, at the end of the day, Kobe was Kobe, and you had to respect that about him.


Kobe’s impact on the city of Los Angeles specifically can’t be understated. In a city known for its stars, Kobe has managed to stand out as one of the most beloved. As someone who grew up in LA and holds the city near to my heart, I associate Kobe Bryant with the ethos of the city more than any other athlete or celebrity out there. LA isn’t all flashy cars and fancy clothing like it’s portrayed in Hollywood - it’s a massively diverse city filled with 4 million hard working people with different backgrounds.


What made Kobe so special was his ability to unify each and every one of these people around his quest for greatness. Not everyone can run really fast or jump really high, but everyone can be passionate about their work and out-hustle their peers if they put in enough effort. To an entire generation of sports fans, Kobe was a representation of what hard work and desire really was. For 20 years, Kobe poured his heart and soul into the Lakers organization, and the fanbase repaid him with unrivaled love and affection. Kobe had just what the Lakers fans needed – The Showtime Effect.

But just as much as LA needed Kobe, Kobe also needed LA. His intensity and flair for the dramatic meshed perfectly with the big market coverage that came with one of the league’s most storied franchises. Kobe and LA were, are, and always will be a match made in Heaven.

Losing a legend always hurts, but this one hits too close to home. The pure devastation this news has caused around the NBA and throughout the city of Los Angeles has gutted me far worse than I could have ever imagined. Whether it’s Quinn Cook’s look of sheer despair with fans outside of the Staples Center, Larry Nance’s inability to contain his emotions on the court, or Shaq’s heartfelt speech remembering his little brother, the reactions circulating the internet have broken my heart. While many of us grieving may have never met him or known him personally, Kobe was one of the most influential figures in our lives, and we miss him dearly.


Despite my best efforts, it’s impossible to truly explain the impact Kobe had on the world because he truly meant so many different things to so many different people. Even after his playing days, the legend of Kobe Bryant has raged on through his mentoring of current players and his fatherhood to his daughters. Watching the Mamba coach up Gigi on the sidelines gave me so much hope for another generation of Bryant domination on the court, making it all the more incredibly devastating to lose both of them like this. My thoughts and prayers are with the Bryant family and all those who are hurting right now.


But while we may have lost Kobe and Gigi today, we haven’t lost what they stood for. I’ll never forget what Kobe meant to me, and I’ll be sure my kids don’t either one day. So, with that said -


*Crumples up paper, leans back to shoot it into the trash*


"KOOOOBEEEEE"


This one’s for you, Mamba.

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